We all know him as a frontiersman, surrounded by centuries of lore. But the picture of the frontiersman imprinted in our minds is not necessarily real. When the Chester Harding full length portrait of Daniel Boone deteriorated, the artists cut out the head and pasted it onto another background. So we’ll never know what Daniel Boone actually wore, although there is an engraving by another artist that is supposed to be authentic! Boone’s famous coonskin cap was actually a stage prop. Boone himself considered that style uncivilized, but when the actor who help the artist sell engravings was hired for a minstrel show, he substitute a coonskin cap for the beaver hat which Boone actually wore and the myth was born.
The Boone family, prominent in settling the Oley Valley, and friends of the ancestors of President Abraham Lincoln who lived here too, only lived in Pennsylvania until Daniel was 16. His father, Squire Boone, has been expelled – basically kicked out – of the Exeter Friends Meeting, the Quaker church the family belonged to and decided to leave the state entirely for points south. Boone came back to Pennsylvania in 1755, to serve with General Braddock during the French and Indian War, before moving to Culpeper County, Virginia and then back to North Carolina again. He kept close ties to Virginia, traveling to Kentucky on behalf of the authorities to warn a survey crew of an impending war with the Shawnee. It wasn’t until 1775 that he traveled the Wilderness Road to bring his family to Kentucky.
Boone went on to serve in the Virginia legislature before moving totally to Kentucky, where he immediately got into a tussle over his land claims. The local sheriff sent out a warrant for his arrest and put much of his land up for sale. The Boones moved one more time, this time to Missouri, where landing on his feet once again, he was appointed justice of the township where he lived by Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, who by them was the governor of the Louisiana Territory. At the age of 78, still spunky Boone volunteered to serve in the War of 1812, but was turned down! He passed on eight years later at the ripe old age of 86, after having commanded one more long hunt.
You can learn all this story and more at the Daniel Boone Homestead right here in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. A truly American story.